08 October 2015

USA: USS Fort Worth completes first CARAT exercise with Bangladesh Navy

Image: Flickr User - U.S. Pacific Command
By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Joe Bishop, Navy Public Affairs Support Element West

BAY OF BENGAL (NNS) -- The littoral combat ship USS Fort Worth (LCS 3) completed its first Cooperation Afloat Readiness And Training (CARAT) exercise with Bangladesh in the Bay of Bengal, Oct. 3.

CARAT Bangladesh 2015 is a tangible representation of the continued U.S. commitment to our security partnership and our commitment to peace, prosperity, and security in South Asia. 

"The sea phase of CARAT Bangladesh was short but filled with a large number of naval warfighting core competencies that advanced our navies' interoperability," said Cmdr. Christopher Brown, commanding officer of Fort Worth. "Fort Worth once again proved to be an ideal platform to interact with our Bangladesh Navy partners given our size, displacement, armament, and capabilities - true hull-to-hull partners."

USA: Australia-United States Ministerial Consultations

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter will meet with Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Defence Minister Marise Payne on October 13 when they co-host the 2015 Australia-U.S. Ministerial (AUSMIN) consultations in the Secretary's hometown of Boston, Mass.

The meetings provide an opportunity to discuss ways in which the two countries can expand and deepen Alliance cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond.

Seventy-five years after the United States and Australia established diplomatic relations, 65 years into our alliance, and a decade into our free trade agreement, our common values and shared history form the foundation of a lasting partnership that remains crucial to addressing a range of global challenges.

For 30 years, AUSMIN consultations have provided an important forum to coordinate on a range of important issues.

Industry: F-16V Comes to Indonesia

F-16 Fighting Falcon (File Photo)
JAKARTA, Indonesia, Oct. 7, 2015 – Lockheed Martin brought its F-16 cockpit demonstrator to Indonesia this week to highlight the F-16V, the latest version of Lockheed Martin’s venerable F-16 Fighting Falcon multirole fighter. The F-16V offers the most advanced 4th Generation capability available on the market today, including Scalable Agile Beam Radar (SABR) and enhancements to the aircraft’s mission computer, vehicle systems, aircraft structure, cockpit and electronic warfare system.

The F-16V is the next generation configuration that leverages a common worldwide sustainment infrastructure and provides significant capability improvements to the world’s most affordable and effective multi-role fighter. This upgrade and production configuration will be the predominant configuration for the F-16 worldwide fleet. The new avionics configuration represents the most significant F-16 upgrade to date.

With more than 4,500 F-16s delivered, the F-16V is a natural step in the evolution of the world’s most successful 4th Generation fighter. The Fighting Falcon program has continually evolved as it began with the F-16 A/B as the lightweight fighter then transitioned to F-16 C/D and Block 60 versions as customers’ requirements evolved.

News Story: Thailand balks at price of Chinese submarines

Thailand has decided to postpone the purchase of three S-20 submarines, the export version of the Chinese Type 039A Yuan-class diesel-electric submarine, due to China's asking price, according to the Moscow-based Sputnik News.

The total of US$1 billion requested by China is far too expensive for the Royal Thai Navy to accept, according to its commander, Admiral Na Arreenich. "We fully realize how indispensable the submarine is to our national security," said Arreenich. "At the same time, our navy does not operate any submarines now."

Read the full story at Want China Times

Editorial: Japan to Offer Australia Its Top-Secret Submarine Technology

By Franz-Stefan Gady

Tokyo has disclosed additional details of its offer to replace the Royal Australian Navy’s Collins-class subs.

Japan has for the first time revealed additional details of its proposal to design and build submarines to replace Australia’s fleet of six Collins-class boats.

This week, the head of a high-powered Japanese delegation, speaking at this year’s Sea Power conference in Sydney, told local media that Japan would transfer 100 percent of the technology involved in building a larger version of Japan’s state-of-the-art 4,000-ton diesel-electric Soryu-class submarine to the Australian submariner community. “Our objective is to have everything available to transfer,” delegation head Masaki Ishikawa said.

In detail, Japan’s proposal includes advanced welding technologies, top-secret stealth technology, combat system integration, lithium-ion batteries as the submarine’s main energy source (with the option for air-independent propulsion to be added later an), and an all-weather snorkel system that can operate even during a typhoon, according to the Australian news website Perth Now. In addition, the sub will feature a U.S. combat system.

Ishikawa also offered further details for the construction process of the vessels, with the Japanese plan calling for hundreds of Australian workers to be sent to Japan for training and constructing a mock-up submarine under the supervision of engineers from Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Kawasaki Heavy Industries.

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: Malaysia Eyes New Regional Facility to Counter Islamic State

Image: Wiki Commons
By Prashanth Parameswaran

The country could host a regional center to counter IS messaging.

Last week, Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak announced that the Southeast Asian state may soon establish a regional center to counter messaging from the Islamic State (IS).

Najib told the Leaders’ Summit on Countering ISIL and Violent Extremism at the United Nations on September 29 that Malaysia is eying the formation of a “regional, digital counter-messaging center” because Southeast Asia lacks such a facility. His remarks came after Malaysia became one of the newest members of the U.S.-led Global Coalition to Counter ISIL, joining Singapore as the only two ASEAN states in the grouping so far.

Specifics of the proposal still remain unclear. On October 2, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Russel told reporters that the stationing of a messaging center in Malaysia was an idea “under active consideration.” Russel later clarified that while Malaysia was a leading candidate to serve as host for such a regional hub, no final decision had been made.

Officials say the center would be similar to the one that the United States launched together with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in July this year. The Sawab Center based in Abu Dhabi, U.S. Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Richard Stengel said following its launch, is designed to help both counter IS’s social media strength and sophistication as well as to present a more positive alternative to the vision the group presents. That, Stengel said, would hopefully help stem the flow of new fighters joining IS.

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: Malaysia to Host New Conference to Tackle Islamic State Challenge

Image: Flickr User - AK Rockefeller
By Prashanth Parameswaran

ASEAN states and dialogue partners to participate in two-day meeting.

Malaysia will host an international conference next January focused on forging a regional response to combating terrorism amid a rising Islamic State threat, the country’s deputy prime minister confirmed last week.

At a press conference following a special regional meeting on radicalization and extremism held in Kuala Lumpur, Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, who is also home minister, said that Malaysia would host a conference on deradicalization in the ASEAN region on January 25 and 26 next year.

“Malaysia will be hosting a conference on deradicalization in the ASEAN region on January 25 and 26 next year,” Zahid said last Friday.

The conference participants, Zahid said, would include the 10 ASEAN countries as well as the organization’s eight dialogue partners – the United States, China, South Korea, Japan, India, Australia, New Zealand and Russia.

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: Top US General in Afghanistan - Afghan Security Forces 'Could Potentially Collapse'

Image: Flickr User - ResoluteSupportMedia
By Franz-Stefan Gady

General John F. Campbell testified on the results of this year’s fighting season in front of the U.S. Congress.

This week, the commander of U.S. Forces in Afghanistan, General John F. Campbell, testified [PDF] in front of the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee on the still ongoing fighting season in Afghanistan. He offered a somewhat bleaker assessment than during a previous congressional testimony in March of this year (See: “Quo Vadis Afghanistan: General Campbell Testifies on the Hill”).

While noting the Afghan army’s courage and resilience, Campbell said that the recent fighting in Kunduz has illustrated that the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) “do not possess the necessary combat power and numbers to protect every part of the country.”

Campbell is confident that the ANDSF will regain control of all of Kunduz city. However, he underlined that the overall performance of the ANDSF during this year’s fighting season was “uneven” and “inconsistent,” in particular noting their tendency to remain “tethered to isolated checkpoints and static defenses, which increases their vulnerability and reduces their ability to maneuver effectively.”

The 2015 fighting season has once more shown that the ANDSF still require “broad support” from the United States and its allies. “They have repeatedly shown that without key enablers and competent, operational-level leaders, they cannot handle the fight alone in this stage of their development,” according to Campbell.

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: The Plight of Afghanistan’s Soldiers

Image: Flickr User - DVIDSHUB
By Ali Reza Sarwar and Moh. Sayed Madadi

The Afghan government is failing to provide its military with the leadership and support it needs.

Fourteen years after its defeat, the Taliban in Afghanistan was able to hold the strategic Northern Province of Afghanistan for at least three days. During that time, the Taliban conducted some brutal ethnic cleansing, carried out prosecutions, killed female doctors, and looted public and private properties, including massive military tanks and ammunition dumps.

The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) and the office of President Ashraf Ghani’s office confirmed that the Taliban committed crimes against humanity in Kunduz. But the Taliban also sent a powerful political message to the beleaguered Afghan government and its Western partners, namely that its military machine is effective, its hope for forming a repressive Islamic Emirate is undeterred, and the line between Afghanistan’s tragic past and a democratic future – something that Afghans and their partners envisioned in 2001 – is extremely narrow. The country has the potential to return to its past at any time if the situation in the battlefields does not change in favor of the Afghan forces and government.

From a mere military perspective, including the balance of forces, Afghan soldiers enjoy a clear strategic advantage. They have more manpower, better weapons, and are trained and supported by American and NATO mentors. They are widely respected by the people of Afghanistan and are, perhaps, regarded as the country’s best hope for survival. A combination of serious political and military factors are, however, undermining the soldiers’ ability to fight harder and defeat the enemy.

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: Confirmed - Chinese Submarines Will Be Built in Karachi

Karachi port and harbour (Image: Wikipedia)
By Ankit Panda

Four of China’s eight Yuan-class submarines for Pakistan will be built in Karachi.

Earlier this year, Pakistan and China concluded a deal for Islamabad to purchase eight modified Type 41 Yuan-class diesel-electric attack submarines from China (export designation is the S20, which excludes the air-independent propulsion system). Specifics about the deal have been slow to emerge, but today Dawn, a major Pakistani newspaper, reports that China will build four of the eight submarines it is selling to Pakistan in Karachi, Pakistan’s largest city and most important port city on the Arabian Sea.

Pakistan’s minister for defense production, Rana Tanveer Hussain, announced the arrangement at the inauguration of Pakistan’s Defense Export Promotion Organization (DEPO) Displayer Center in Islamabad. The announcement is significant because it confirms that China will transfer technology for the construction of the S20 submarines to Pakistan. Furthermore, according to Hussain’s comments, construction on the submarines will begin simultaneously in both countries. The Pakistan minister did not indicate a time frame for the start of construction.

Read the full story at The Diplomat